📷 : Pixabay
Suspenseful and intense thrillers
Movies and TV shows that make you laugh, or involve urgency, like chase scenes or other physical activity
Films in the suspense genre mainly stick to escapist plots. Sometimes, they consist of characters with abnormal professions, such as an assassin or secret agent. Other times, they revolve around a very normal protagonist uprooted from his or her routine and into a stressful situation, like a family man who witnesses a mob hit. The obstacle to peace and happiness is generally a villain with malicious intent. Whether down-to-earth or fantastical, the suspense comes from the otherness of the situation itself.
Eric Gravel’s French drama Full Time brings the same hair-raising intensity as other suspense films by simply displaying a single working mother attempting to maneuver around the landmines caused by a public transit strike. Julie (Laure Calamy, Only the Animals) lives in the suburbs of Paris with her two children and works in the city as a room service attendant at an upscale hotel. Her daily routine is a pressure cooker, where she has little margin for error in terms of getting from point A to point B. Julie’s regular day-to-day stress levels increase tenfold when a union strike throws the public transit schedule out of orbit, forcing her to hitchhike and bargain her way to various locations every day before finally arriving back home. In addition to her logistical challenges, Julie’s tardiness causes her to fall out of favor with her employer and the nanny of her kids. Despite numerous attempts, she cannot get ahold of her children’s father for help, and she anxiously awaits the results of her interview for a marketing job that would pay far more than her current gig.
Hearing a stranger recite all of these burdensome, stressful circumstances might make your eyes glaze over. After all, we each have our own hardships to focus on. We see this sentiment in how other busy characters react to Julie’s grievances. Even if they feel momentary sympathy, they either turn her away or briefly offer whatever help they can. Nonetheless, Full Time illustrates Julie’s struggles in a way that would induce anxiety in any empathetic audience member. Julie is always on the go and always being inconvenienced by cancellations, traffic jams, car troubles, and other external circumstances that every adult experiences. She rarely has a moment to herself, and they are usually spent thinking about the next task she needs to fulfill.
Enhancing the intensity of the story and onscreen action is the brilliant film score from composer Irène Drésel. The quick tempo and ominous feel of the music from scene to scene creates a sense of dread, even though no one is chasing or threatening Julie’s safety. The stakes may not be life and death, but they are her livelihood. Losing her job, babysitter or means of transportation all feel like the end of the world, specifically since she has very few friends or family for support or comfort.
Where Full Time differs from many other movies is in its lack of an active, concrete antagonist. For the most part, as audience members rooting for the main character, we are used to having a character or group to direct our ire towards, some menacing villain trying their hardest to stand in the way. Julie merely has circumstance as her antagonist, which could be all the more frustrating because she has nothing and no one to conquer. To make matters worse, no one is very understanding of her constraints and challenges. After all, we are with Julie every step of the way, whereas the other characters have their own lives to worry about.
The easiest and most common comparison to the tone of Full Time is the popular, fast-paced 2019 thriller Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler. Howard, Sandler’s character, is an indebted jeweler who goes to great lengths to evade his collectors and survive another day. The two films have their differences, as Sandler’s antagonists are rather menacing humans as opposed to mere unfortunate circumstances. Additionally, Julie is, shall we say, a tad bit more virtuous than Sandler’s character. In any case, the pacing and music, as well as the stellar lead performances, create very similar moods between the two. If you want to empathize with the daily struggles of a working single parent, Full Time will provide the perfect emotional rollercoaster.